Strolling past 6th Sense Spa after a revitalizing massage experience (you would only know if you took my advice in my last post), you’ll stumble upon the Mecca of cool merchandise, also known as Camel City Goods. Stacks of retro-inspired North Carolina graphic tee’s, hats, stickers, and key chains deck the shelves of this shop, and if you have any urge to rep Winston Salem, the original Empire State, this is the way to do it. After buying a few WSNC baseball tee’s last week from this hip spot, I felt the graduation heartache ease as I realized I could pay this city homage while wearing my new gear back in Dallas. I asked the company owner’s a few questions on his small business brilliance, which started with his umbrella clothing company, Airtype. Stopping in Camel City Goods and checking out their designs is an absolute must.
1) How and when did you start your company?
I launched Airtype with $600 in 2006 in the playroom at my house. I was unable to find or get a job at an agency that created the type of design work I was into, so I decided to just make my own. At it’s core, Airtype is a creative + digital agency w/ offices in Winston-Salem, NC & Portland, OR.
2) What was the source of inspiration behind Camel City Goods?
I’ve always wanted to launch a clothing line, and it was always part of my plan. I’ve done a lot of merchandise design & production for record labels & bands, so I had a good base of the process from garment to production. Initially I wanted to start out of the gate with some neat North Carolina items. While I was renovating our current office space, a lot of locals were stopping by telling all of these great stories about the space and Winston-Salem. So with that much untold heritage, I decided to start out with Winston specific clothing first. Every other great city had all this cool merchandise & Winston didn’t. So that’s how Camel City Goods came to be.
3) How does your team and business work?
It all starts with ideas & concepts. We have a write board, where people are constantly adding ideas. Once we refine what that concept might be, the designers jump on it. Sometimes it starts digitally, sometimes we go to pen & pencil. As far our designers, they are: Adam Dixon, Parker Gohrick, Johnny Roten & myself.
Once we have a visual, we work them up on several items to see what combinations work best. From there we just determine when might be the best time to have it produced. Back in the beginning it was easy to release stuff all the time. These days it’s a little more effort with our 2 retail stores, generating barcodes, product shots, adding it online & keeping our retail staff in the loop.
4) Why Winston Salem?
I always loved the hand-made element of Winston’s history, and it just had this vibe. For whatever reason I felt like something was going to happen here, and thought I’d have a better chance of carving my own path here, versus a major market. The people are rad, it’s a great place to raise a family and the location is hard to beat – mountains to the beaches.
5) Where do you hope to see company in a few years?
My immediate answer is “still in business.” We’re currently expanding into new markets & retailers, growing our NC collection, and continuing to support the great community of WSNC.
6) What do YOU love at about Winston – what restaurants and bars do you frequent?
Oh that’s tough question, there is so much killer stuff here. I frequent Hoots, Foothills, City Bev, Underdog Records & West End Cafe regularly.
Since we’re asked that question a lot, Airtype decided to produce a ‘Field Guide’ each year with our favorite spots to check out. There is also an online version w/ more listings + more features to come. Go check it out at http://www.fieldguidewsnc.com.
Bryan Ledbetter, Director of Everything
– Megan O’Sullivan, Blog Founder